Is Fortnite Based on Luck or Skill?

Posted by Luke Kenna on 3rd Jan 2019

Epic Games multiplayer shooter Fortnite is one of the biggest video games in the world right now. The game's battle royale mode has helped it to reach 200 million players around the world and even rival shooter franchises, such as Call of Duty, have followed suit. These competitors understand that battle royale is an incredibly engaging genre and it is great for keeping players coming back regularly. Fortnite's players play often in the hopes of reaching the upper, world-record-breaking ranks of the game's player community. But is succeeding in Fortnite really about skill and actually getting better at the game? Or is it more about sheer luck?

This is a question that has been asked time and time again, not just of Fortnite but of other games in which some elements are decided for a player. For example, in Fortnite, it's impossible to precisely guess what sort of loot you will find as you go across the game's map and whether you'll come across powerful, epic weapons and chests full of ammo and healing consumables or whether you'll have to try and win using common-level duds.

Luck is an important factor in other games too. In Overwatch, for example, it is luck that determines what you get out of the game's cosmetic loot boxes and whether you'll get legendary skins that offer a whole new theme or drab, basic skins that just change a single color of a character's design. Likewise, in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V, luck determines whether you're playing with or against high-level players who have more experience with the game than you.

These games themselves may be new, but the concept of luck in gaming isn't. These games all follow the same suit as poker, a game where luck is the defining factor. Even iGaming (online casino and poker games) have set the tone, showing these other game developers how to incorporate luck into a digital gaming interface. Casinos and other iGaming platforms understand that luck - and player attempts to somehow beat the randomness - is what keeps people coming back and this is a key principle of most modern multiplayer video games.

What Are the Odds of Winning a Game of Fortnite?

Weapon tier lists can give players an edge in Fortnite.

On a face level, the odds of winning a game of Fortnite as a solo player are just 1 in 100. There are 99 other players (max.) in a typical match of Fortnite. Duos (two players in a team) shifts those odds to 1 in 50 and a squad (up to four players) can shift those odds again to 1 in 25. But, that's just on face value and there are tons of other luck-based factors that could affect your performance in a game.

A major factor is where you land on the map. While a named area may have the best loot, which will, in turn, give you a better chance at winning, lots of other players will have the same idea and so the increased threat level could reduce your odds. Then, there's the effectiveness of a weapon, with grey being the most common all the way up to yellow which is a mythic weapon that will be tough to find if you can find it at all. Other items, such as traps, shields, and bandages all have different rarities and effectiveness levels too and could all determine whether you win against an opponent with similar experience at playing at Fortnite as you.

It's not hard to see how Epic Games has directly lifted the concept of hands from real-life games of poker. Where Fortnite has different weapons and consumables that have different values, in poker, there are winning or losing hands which players will hope that they are lucky enough to get or avoid. And this is seen right across the board in all poker games, including 7 Card Stud and Omaha Hi Lo. In the latter poker game, the high hand that everyone wants to get is the Royal Flush. The low hand that players will hope to get is the 5-4-3-2-A. Where Fortnite has best weapons lists, poker has winning hands; the same concept of luck is the foundation for both systems.

How to Develop Your Skills and Beat the Odds

What are the odds of claiming the best guns in Fortnite?

Luck is not an easy factor to beat. Certain items, such as the mythic Fortnite weapons mentioned above, are so rare that you have an incredibly low probability of finding them. Therefore, you shouldn't solely rely on luck to carry you towards a victory. In both Fortnite and poker, you don't know what hand your opponents are going to get so even if you get relatively lucky, other players could be working with a hand that is just as strong as yours.

The smartest way to get ahead in any game - video games and poker included - is to practice. In Fortnite, you may not be able to control how many players drop in the same spot as you or what loot you happen to find, but you could improve your responses or use tactics (such as building to stop enemy gunfire) to get better. In poker, that same commitment to practicing will help you figure out the probability of a specific card coming up. You can also better figure out how to identify someone's tell (a giveaway of whether they have a strong or weak hand). The best pro players of video games practice for around 50 hours every week, so it makes sense to put in the same amount of time as they do.

Speaking of pros, you could also watch their games and try to learn from them. Is there a specific tactic that they employ? Do they take risks or do they play it safe? There are Twitch streams (of both Fortnite and poker, for that matter) that will give you some additional insight.

The answer to the question, then, is that it's a bit of both. Luck and skill play a factor in most games that we play.